Heroes in the Community: Swarm365’s Dr. Sumon Bhowmick of Novant Health
By Sam Perley
Raised in the Gulf Coast region of southern Mississippi, Dr. Sumon Bhowmick has been a basketball fanatic for most of his life. And when the time came to relocate after medical school almost 10 years ago, Bhowmick and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Amber, came across the total package in Charlotte, NC.
“Growing up in the 90’s, it was all Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls,” Bhowmick said. “That’s what everybody was in to. My workout room is just top to bottom Jordan’s. I grew up idolizing that team and his greatness. Leaving Mississippi and looking for a place that still had that Southern culture, but also more diverse and larger, Charlotte was just an option that when it came, I just jumped at it.”
During a cross-country flight to Oakland shortly after the couple had moved, Amber sat next to a Bobcats season ticket holder and after some dialogue, the latter encouraged her to reach out to the organization. Safe to say, it didn’t take too much convincing to get Sumon on board.
“She knew that I loved basketball – maybe not as much at the time – but she knew I was really into it. She got the card for a sales rep and when she came back, we called them up. I had just started my new career working in Lincoln County. It was just the two of us on this new adventure at the time, so we were just looking to live it up and check out the arena. I was sold immediately because it’s professional basketball and it was run by Michael Jordan.”
He added with a laugh, “Amber at the time looked at me and was like, ‘You haven’t even gotten an engagement ring for me yet and you’re about to drop all this money on tickets?’ Three months later, we got engaged, so she was fine!”
Soon-to-be five-year-old twin boys, a three-year-old daughter and a move to South Charlotte later, Sumon and Amber are still in the same section today albeit a few rows closer behind the Hornets bench. But like everything else in the sporting world at the moment, NBA basketball games have been suspended for over a month now in response to the ongoing worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Bhowmick currently works as a pediatrician at Novant Health Waverly Pediatrics and Primary Care, while Amber is also a pediatric and critical care nurse. Bhowmick recently spent time working at a drive-up screening center for COVID-19 and like others in the medical field, his day-to-day routine has been greatly impacted by the new social distancing guidelines.
“What this pandemic has ushered us into is more teleconferencing, virtual visits, Zoom, stuff like that on a regular basis to see patients,” he explained. “Our clinic is pediatrics and primary care, so we have adults, too. The emphasis is not just toward diverting and giving people support they need on the front lines, but also making sure our patients themselves are able to get the care that they need. Kids still get sick, allergies are acting up. They want to be seen and talk about what’s going on, but in the safest way possible.”
Nobody knows what things will look like when the pandemic is over, but the world will undoubtedly be a different place in more ways than one. On a positive note though, Bhowmick is convinced that the way doctors and others in the medicinal world interact with patients after all of this is over will be greatly improved.
“We’re getting better at this. We’re actually kind of enjoying the virtual visits, too, because we’re able to help people quickly and give them what they need,” he said. “We’re not spending too much time inconveniencing them. Our staff is usually taking temperatures and vital signs, but now they’re working IT and helping people set up their computers. We’re all really just trying to figure out what our role is in this. I think in the grand scheme of things, it’s actually going to make us care for our families even better because it gives us more access.”
Bhowmick has also seen a lot in terms of basketball over his 10 years as a season ticket holder having watched the likes of Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Kemba Walker and many others leading up to a youth movement that was hitting its stride when play was halted on March 11.
“These young guys like Devonte’ and Miles, they’ve really just shown us they have the heart. I’m going to ride with them no matter what happens because I need to see how this works! I really like the Martin twins. All of these guys are scrappy dudes,” he said. “To be honest, I just like watching them play as hard as they play. JB has been constantly positive about everything. He had to inherit a lot of responsibility. I feel very confident with him at the helm doing things. I feel like we have a good opportunity for these players to keep developing.”
But becoming Swarm 365 members has been about more than just attending NBA games on a regularly basis for the Bhowmicks – something Sumon didn’t experience too often growing up in a state without any of the four major sports. And soon, it might even be a full family event.
“We sat in the section where Kemba’s mom used to sit and have become close friends with the people in our section. When our twins were born, Kemba’s mother made some blankets for us. There’s this whole community aspect of being part of it. It really just made us feel like it was not just a sports thing. We have not taken our kids to many basketball games yet because they’re still a little bit too young, but I totally see in the future that if the kids get the good grades, they’re going to sit with me. I’m still going! They’ll come with me, we’ll get something to eat, we’ll get some autographs, they’ll catch a T-shirt, everything.”
For now, Sumon, Amber and many other heroic doctors, nurses and first responders will continue fighting COVID-19 on the front lines and protecting as many people as possible from the effects of the coronavirus and other illnesses.
“Sports has always been a great way to bring people together and get people talking,” Bhowmick added. “It’s been tough to have that missing, but at the same time, I have this unique standpoint. The basketball fanatic and huge fan that I am of the Hornets and sports in general is just itching for that to be back. This is so important that we get this under as good a control as possible. Adam Silver has been such an incredible NBA commissioner because he has that progressive thinking and he makes those tough calls. Get it right and shut it down. As much as people are chomping at the bit for sports and basketball to be back in our life, we have to make sure we’re doing this right.”